Cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB) is a unique clinical scenario that results in widespread activation of the hemostatic system. However, surgery also results in normal increases in coagulation activation, platelet activation, and fibrinolysis that are associated with normal wound hemostasis. Conventional CPB interferes with normal hemostasis by diluting hemostatic cells and proteins, through reinfusion of shed blood, and through activation on the bypass circuit surface of multiple systems including platelets, the kallikrein-kinin system, and fibrinolysis. CPB activation of the kallikrein-kinin system increases activated factor XIIa, kallikrein, bradykinin, and tissue plasminogen activator levels, but has little effect on thrombin generation. Increased tissue plasminogen activator and circulating fibrin result in increased plasmin generation, which removes hemostatic fibrin. The nonendothelial surface of the bypass circuit, along with circulating thrombin and plasmin, lead to platelet activation, platelet receptor loss, and reduced platelet response to wounds. In this review, we highlight the major mechanisms responsible for CPB-induced activation of the hemostatic system and examine some of the markers described in the literature. Additionally, strategies used to reduce this activation are discussed, including limiting cardiotomy suction, increasing circuit biocompatibility, antithrombin supplementation, and antifibrinolytic use. Determining which patients will most benefit from specific therapies will ultimately require investigation into genetic phenotypes of coagulation protein expression. Until that time, however, a combination of approaches to reduce the hemostatic activation from CPB seems warranted.